I just put together a little list of things to help a friend who is struggling to eradicate infection with Haemophilus influenzae. This got me thinking that this info might be useful for others, along with some ideas for staying flu-free this flu season.
Despite the name, H. influenzae is not the same as the influenza virus that causes the flu. However, as this is the worst time of the year for flu infections in North America (January and February), and the flu vaccine, while still helpful, is not proving quite as effective this season, you probably don’t want to come down with H. influenzae and the flu at the same time.
Caveat! Caveat! This is not medical advice!
These are just some thoughts on ways to help the body fight off H. influenzae, a virus that we all carry in our upper respiratory tract and that usually causes no problems for us. Sometimes though, this pesky gram negative bacterium can spread to the lower respiratory tract and cause a serious infection that is hard to shift. On occasion, the infection may even spread to other parts of the body, including the brain, and result in severe complications.
Symptoms of H. influenzae
Symptoms of Haemophilus influenzae include flu-like symptoms such as a sore throat, nausea, fever, and fatigue. H. influenzae may also lead to:
- Ear infections (otitis media) – sore ear(s) and fever
- Sinus infections (sinusitis) – congested nose and headaches
- Lung infections (pneumonia) – mucus build-up, breathing difficulties and coughing
Anyone with the following symptoms should be sure to seek medical advice immediately as these can indicate a serious invasive infection:
- Acute fever
- Fussiness (in babies/infants)
- Intense headache
- Stiff neck and back
H. influenzae can cause bacterial meningitis (hence the stiff neck), so this isn’t one to mess around with if you suspect you are infected.
Treating the flu, and H. influenzae
Anyone with a serious infection, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, the very old, or the very young, should be talking to their physician for proper medical care.
However, there is evidence that the following strains of probiotics can help fight H. influenzae:
- Lactobacillus plantarum DK119
- Lactobacillus GG (ATCC 53103)
- Bifidobacterium sp B420
- Lactobacillus acidophilus 145
- Streptococcus thermophilus
Renew Life – Ultimate Flora Critical Care 50 Billion is a great multistrain formula that contains the strain of L. plantarum found to be active against H. influenzae in studies (and, yes, I have affiliate links on this site so that I can pay for stuff like, er, hosting, and tea).
Dealing with H. influenzae and flu season
Respiratory system infections also tend to respond well to a good intake of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the form of flavonoids like quercetin, and even the theaflavins found in black tea.
These nutrients are also helpful for regular old flu, as are licorice root extracts, which help reduce inflammation in the lungs and ease symptoms of infection; licorice may even have antiviral activity against influenza (the flu). It makes sense to choose a deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) Licorice Root Extract as this doesn’t have the side effect of increasing blood pressure.
Supporting healthy immunity
Other good ideas to support healthy immune system activity include reducing your intake of simple sugars and animal fats in order to decrease systemic inflammation, and increasing intake of foods that contain zinc and vitamin C, such as pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, leafy green vegetables, cruciferous veg and citrus fruits (not juice as this is high in sugar).
Good luck avoiding H. influenzae and the flu!
Glück U, Gebbers JO. Ingested probiotics reduce nasal colonization with pathogenic bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and beta-hemolytic streptococci). Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;77(2):517-20.
Park MK, Ngo V, Kwon YM, Lee YT, Yoo S, Cho YH, Hong SM, Hwang HS, Ko EJ, Jung YJ, Moon DW, Jeong EJ, Kim MC, Lee YN, Jang JH, Oh JS, Kim CH, Kang SM. Lactobacillus plantarum DK119 as a probiotic confers protection against influenza virus by modulating innate immunity. PLoS One. 2013 Oct 4;8(10):e75368.
Xie YC, Dong XW, Wu XM, Yan XF, Xie QM. Inhibitory effects of flavonoids extracted from licorice on lipopolysaccharide-induced acute pulmonary inflammation in mice. Int Immunopharmacol. 2009 Feb;9(2):194-200.
Fiore C, Eisenhut M, Krausse R, Ragazzi E, Pellati D, Armanini D, Bielenberg J. Antiviral effects of Glycyrrhiza species. Phytother Res. 2008 Feb;22(2):141-8.Want carbon-neutral webhosting with great customer service? Try DreamHost and use code 'Vegans' for a third off!